Protect your skin from sun exposure naturally July 14 2016

The sun is shining bright and we’re excited about long summer days. With this in mind, it’s essential to remember our skin care basics: protect your skin! We recommend covering up whenever possible, wearing large sun hats, escaping to the shade frequently (when you’re outside for long periods of time), drinking copious amounts of water, eating a plethora of fresh + antioxidant rich seasonal + local foods, and of course, layering your exposed skin with a natural sunblock.

The sunlight beaming down onto our bodies is comprised of two different types of rays: UVA (long wave) + UVB (short wave). UVA rays penetrate deep, accessing the lowest + thickest level of our skin (dermis). UVB rays can burn the superficial top layers of our skin (epidermis). Prolonged unprotected exposure to these rays can lead to premature aging, suppression of the immune system, sun damage and skin cancers. 

Choosing the right sunblock for you may be daunting -  especially if you’re concerned about chemicals and carcinogens seeping into your skin. The skin is our largest organ, and what it absorbs affects all other organs within us. It’s important to read labels and inspect the ingredients in your products. There is a great application available for most smart phones called "Think Dirty" - it allows you to scan a product's barcode and it reveals how 'clean' or 'dirty' the product may be. This is a quick and convenient tool when shopping!

Natural sunblocks contain minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that cover the surface of the skin to physically block or reflect broad spectrum of the sun’s rays. The sunblock is usually thick, white and doesn’t absorb quickly - therefore often leaving a white sheen on the skin’s surface. There are some natural skincare brands that have created SPF without the thick, white texture: COOLA, Consonant, Green Beaver and more. 

Chemical sunscreens contain synthetic ingredients such as oxybenzone which is absorbed into the skin to filter the sun’s rays, thus protecting deeper layers of the skin. Since it’s being absorbed deeply, it can lead to skin irritation, cell-damaging free radicals, and other adverse reactions. Chemical SPF products are also known to contain cancer causing carcinogens, which can lead to future skin diseases. We recommend using organic, natural preventative measures wherever possible.

I spoke with one of our lovely clients during a treatment and we touched on the importance of diet and lifestyle in regards to sun protection. Michelle Tirmandi, BA, B.Ed, CNP  (Certified Nutritionist) shares some of her wisdom on that topic: 

Your diet can play a role in helping to protect the skin against harmful UV damage from the sun!

As UV exposure is known to deplete antioxidant levels in the skin, eating a diet rich in antioxidants can can help to strengthen the body’s natural defences against harmful UV rays and sun damage. 

Some of the best foods to help with sun protection and strengthen the body’s natural skin defences include: 

  • Tomatoes and Watermelons which contain Lycopene, an antioxidant known to help prevent UV-induced sunburns (side note: adding olive oil to tomatoes can help to improve the absorption of the the phytonutrient!).  
  • Blackberries, blueberries and other dark pigmented fruits which are high in Vitamin C and other free-radical fighting antioxidants. 
  • Wild salmon which contains a powerful antioxidant carotenoid called astaxanthin which helps protect against burning, improves hydration in the skin and provides and anti-inflammatory effect (sunburns are the result of an inflammatory process). 

Of course it’s also necessary to ensure you are properly hydrated during the long, summer days! 

Many of us don't realize how quickly we can become dehydrated in the heat, but it’s really important to drink water throughout the day to help the skin to stay looking plump and moist. 

Steering clear of too much alcohol and caffeine can help, along with ensuring that you’re drinking enough water(a good rule of thumb is 1/2 your body weight (lbs) in oz. plus extra in hot weather and with excercise). 

Michelle Tirmandi
Social Media: @michellenutrition
Phone: 416 371 4887

xx Cassandra 
*Image via pinterest